Christmas in Ghana is a two-week event starting from December 20th through the first week of January. Many people travel to visit their relatives and friends in other parts of the country, mostly, rural areas. That is the only time of the year that the streets in Accra, the capital city, do not have traffic jams. Drivers can move swiftly from one area of town to the other without staying in traffic for hours.
The celebrations actually start on Christmas Eve with church services with Christmas songs, drumming and dancing. Sometimes, these services and dancing go on all night long. Children often put on a Nativity Play. Other people celebrate Christmas Eve with fireworks and parties. These parties precede 2 weeks break for most workers. Beaches are crowed, hotels are fully booked.
On Christmas Day, the churches are very full. Worshippers are dressed in their colorful traditional clothes and choirs come out in numbers to sing while people dance.
After the morning service, people go back home to start giving and receiving gifts. A lot of families anticipate visits from other relatives and loved ones.
Children are exceptionally excited during Christmas as they get to wear new clothes and shoes. I recall my own childhood when Christmas was my favorite time of the year. My parents made sure that my brother and I had new clothes, shoes and occasionally toys during the festive season.
Most Ghanaians also go to church on the 31st December to thank God and to pray for a good and safe New Year. People may also use that time to remember those who passed-on during the previous year and pray that difficulties they may have encountered over the year do not carry on into the New Year.
About 70% of Ghanaians are Christians. Therefore, Christmas celebration is very important for Ghanaians. Over 66 languages are spoken in Ghana and all these language groups have their own traditions and customs.
By Brigitte Norgbey
In Chad Christmas, is usually a moment of big celebration and this could be noticed by the level of preparation. The last week before Christmas, Christians are busy attending teaching regarding Christmas, preparing Christmas eve and Christmas services. Young people and children are big part of the celebration. Parents do their best to offer new clothes to their children and dependants for the Christmas day.
The Christmas eve is a special day. Worshipers dress up for the service and they express their joy and enthusiasm during the service through songs and dances. Additionally, as part of the service, many churches put on a nativity play, carol service or other joyous celebration.
For some congregations, after the service people are organized in groups and they walk singing from the church to the designated location (often it is one of the members’ home) where they will all spend the rest of the night together singing Christmas carols and dancing.
On the Christmas day, there is another big and joyful service, after that people pay a visit to relatives and share a special meal - this will often be a rustic stew of mutton or goat, served with rice. Neighbours and sometimes even strangers are invited too. It is a long day as there is a long list of relatives to visit. Children will also receive gifts or money during these visits to relatives and neighbours. The celebration usually continues until to the new year.
Since Chad is a predominantly Muslim country (about 55% of the population is Muslim), it is also common to see Muslims sharing the moment with their Christians neighbours, friends or parents by giving gifts or visiting on Christmas day.
By Dounia Keda
Images of Christmas celebration in Africa